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[guh-ril-uh] /gəˈrɪl ə/
the largest of the anthropoid apes, Gorilla gorilla, terrestrial and vegetarian, of western equatorial Africa and the Kivu highlands, comprising the subspecies G. g. gorilla (western lowland gorilla) G. g. graueri (eastern lowland gorilla) and G. g. beringei (mountain gorilla) now rare.
an ugly, brutish person.
Slang. a hoodlum or thug, especially one who threatens or inflicts violence.
1790-1800; < Neo-Latin < Greek Goríllās (accusative plural) name for a race of hairy women in Hanno's account of his voyage along the coast of Africa (5th century b.c.)
Related forms
gorillalike, adjective
gorillian, gorilline
[guh-ril-ahyn, -in] /gəˈrɪl aɪn, -ɪn/ (Show IPA),
gorilloid, adjective
Can be confused
gorilla, guerrilla. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for gorillalike


the largest anthropoid ape, Gorilla gorilla, inhabiting the forests of central W Africa. It is stocky and massive, with a short muzzle and coarse dark hair
(informal) a large, strong, and brutal-looking man
Derived Forms
gorilla-like, adjective
gorillian, gorilline (ɡəˈrɪlaɪn) adjective
gorilloid, adjective
Word Origin
C19: New Latin, from Greek Gorillai, an African tribe renowned for their hirsute appearance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gorillalike
1847, applied to the apes (Troglodytes gorills) by U.S. missionary Thomas Savage, from Gk. gorillai, pl. of name given to wild, hairy people in Gk. translation of Carthaginian navigator Hanno's account of his voyage along the N.W. coast of Africa, c.500 B.C.E. Allegedly an African word.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gorillalike


  1. (also gorill) A ruffian; goon: Strong-arm men, gorillas, and tough gangsters/ Those gorills do not care anything about law (1904+)
  2. A hired killer; hit man (1920s+)
  3. Anything very powerful and unstoppable; anything very forceful and intimidating: It is very simple to create the appearance of a ''gorilla,'' a product with a lot of momentum (1980s+)
  1. To steal or rob with threat and violence: if you let somebody gorilla you out of some money (1960s+)
  2. To beat someone up; savage someone; clobber: If that doesn't work, we'll gorilla a little bit/ You ain't gonna gorilla anybody (1960s+)
Related Terms

six-hundred-pound gorilla

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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